The class had started off normally.
“Let’s begin!” I announced in a sharp voice. This is usually followed by a student commanding the others to “Stand up! Attention! Bow!”
This happens in some variation in most classrooms in Japan, at the start of most every class. It seemed really formal at first, but now I like the feeling of having officially begun the class. It seems to put everyone in the right mindset of “Ok, class has started, time to focus.” This may not be the case everywhere, as my students are pretty focused to begin with, but it’s something I really appreciate about teaching in Japan.
I prefer to have as much English as possible in the classroom, so I make the students do the commands in English. It’s pretty funny when someone forgets, and you hear ten helpful voices whispering to the person on the spot.
Sometimes they’ll even be a bit cheeky and tell the student the wrong thing, like when they whispered “Sit down!” instead of “Stand Up!” and the poor kid repeated it, already flustered from having forgotten in the first place. It’s all in good fun though, and always amusing.
I even make the students use English when handing in assignments or requesting a new paper. I’m really big on “please” and “thank you,” even for small things. I thought this was pretty basic, but my old Vice Principle thought it was brilliant, so I guess not every one does this?
Then again at a school sports event recently, I was cheering for the students when a coworker turned to me and said “Oh! You’re cheering in English! What a good idea!” Yup, I really worked hard on that one…practiced for ages…
So recently, class had just started when I heard a small voice from the middle of the room saying “Here you are! Here you are!”
I hadn’t asked for assignments to be handed in, and I couldn’t see where the tiny voice was coming from.
“Here you are! Here you are!” it came again, even more quiet and high-pitched the second time.
I looked around trying to locate the voice, when I spotted one of my favorite girls, a girl so small and cute and sweet that you just want to put her in your pocket, with a trinket in her hand, holding it shyly forward.
She shook her head and gestured to the girl behind her, another girl who I hadn’t really noticed before. Her desk was covered in a pile of various papercraft, cutout and colored and folded. This went way beyond origami, and was definitely not the sort of thing I’d ever seen in an American classroom.
I was stunned, to say the least. My school doesn’t even have an art department, and the Word Processing Club is one of the most popular non-sports clubs, so the students aren’t really famous for their creative talents.
I thanked her profusely, and got back to the lesson. I’d been looking for something to replace the tired snowflakes that had long since passed their seasonal appropriateness decorating my computer, and immediately taped up the rocket as soon as I got back to the teachers’ room.
I love my job ♥